Closing the Equity Gap Through Education, Entrepreneurship and Employment
Joe Garcia, JD
Former Lieutenant Governor of Colorado, President, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education
Joe Garcia assumed the presidency of WICHE on June 20 succeeding David Longanecker, who retired after 17 years as the organization’s leader. Garcia left his dual role as Colorado lieutenant governor and executive director of the state’s Department of Higher Education and will be the seventh president of WICHE since its founding 62 years ago.
Before his inauguration as lieutenant governor in 2011 and re-election in 2015, Garcia was president of Colorado State University-Pueblo. During his four-year tenure there, he helped the institution overcome financial difficulties and stagnant enrollment, and enhanced its reputation through aggressive marketing and nontraditional solutions. Previously, he was president of Colorado’s second-largest community college, Pikes Peak Community College, overseeing three campuses serving more than 16,000 students a year.
Garcia, who earned a business degree from the University of Colorado and a jurisdoctorate from Harvard Law School, began his career in 1983 with Holme Roberts & Owen, where he went on to become the first Hispanic partner in the 100-year history of the storied Denver law firm. In 1993, he joined former Gov. Roy Romer’s cabinet as executive director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, a position he held until his appointment in 1999 as the U.S. Department of Housing and Development’s regional director for the Rocky Mountain states.
Throughout his career, Garcia has been actively involved as a board member for numerous civic, educational, and cultural nonprofit organizations, including the YMCAs of Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and Denver; Pikes Peak Legal Aid; economic development agencies in Pueblo and Colorado Springs; the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority; Pikes Peak Child Nursery Centers; and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. He served nine years on the WICHE Commission, and was its chair in 2012.